That is a really nice looking smoker. I would agree, your fire grate looks a little high. You can just trim the edges so it sits down farther.
I'd suggest the minion method for maintaining temps. Your smoker is just a little bigger than mine, so results may vary. Just keep trying different things and eventually you will find a routine that works well for you.
About the guys that set it and go to bed... there are auto-feed smokers out there that will maintain a good temp for a long time. But ours don't do that. I have to check my fire at least once every hour, sometimes every 30 minutes if it is fluctuating a lot.